Selected Lectures (Audio)

“Judaism: The Covenant”
CLAL education lectures, 1990
from the series Turning Points in Jewish History: Living the Covenant

“Judaism’s Vision of the Covenant: The Triumph of Life”
An exploration of the Jewish view of the covenant and how it manifests in our lives. Rabbi Greenberg contends that the covenant is the most important message Judaism brings to the world.

“Turning Points in Jewish History: Covenant”
Rabbi Greenberg discusses Jewish history to elucidate aspects of the covenant, a notion central to Judaism. Covenant is an unfolding process which allows humanity to realize its full potential for life and partnership.
Note on quality: tape has echo.

“Covenant: The Holidays”
Covenant offers the world a model on how to reach perfection through partnering humans with God in order to make moral progress in accordance with human limitations. The Torah’s legislation of slavery and unequal position of women are to be seen as measures intended to improve the society in which they were originally legislated with the longer-term goal of the eventual abolishment of these practices as the covenantal process continues. Covenant works toward the treatment of all people with dignity, starting with our own Jewish family while moving toward treating the rest of the world in a similar manner. Covenant provides human models such as Abraham and Sarah and is passed down from generation to generation. It is reinforced on the Jewish holidays through the reliving of slavery on Pesach, the learning to take responsibility for freedom on Sukkot, and the commitment to the covenant on Shavuot.

“Covenant: Moses”
Rabbi Greenberg explores the personality of Moses, the greatest leader of the Jewish people.

“Human Nature: Covenant/Conscience”
Human perfection is both the beginning of the world and the goal of humankind.

“Covenant in Judaism and Christianity”
An exchange in which Rabbi Greenberg and another speaker (unidentified) discuss aspects of the covenant in Judaism and Christianity. A wide range of topics are covered, including sexuality and messianism.

“Covenant: Individual Uniqueness”
The basis of the convenant is a recognition of the uniqueness of each individual. The covenant is the commitment of the Jewish people to work towards the perfection of the world.
Beginning of lecture is cut off.

“Dynamics of Covenant: After the Destruction of the First Temple (Ezra and Nehemiah #2)”
Study session in which Rabbi Greenberg and Irwin Kula study the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. These books present a renewal of the covenant and a move from a priestly leadership of the people to a scribal leadership of the people.

“Genesis: Covenantal Limits”
Rabbi Greenberg teaches about the movement in the book of Genesis from moral ideas to the real-world reality of human affairs.

“Covenant and the Individual/the Nation”
Covenant must be made with a nation, not an individual. The individual is significant only in the context of the nation. Covenant symbolizes God’s respect for human emotion and limitation.

“Dynamics of Covenant”
God is still concern with humanity. Rabbi Greenberg discusses various components of the partnership between God and humanity.


Part I: “Covenant: Redeeming the World”
“To be a Jew is to enter into a covenant of life,” Rabbi Greenberg says. Central to the teaching of Covenant is the realization of a dream—the dream of liberation, the Exodus from Egypt.

Part II: “Covenant: Vision of Life”
Rabbi Greenberg continues with his exploration of the central idea of Covenant, which he further explicates as about choosing life and pledging ourselves to the preservation of life.


Part I: “Covenant: Wexner Foundation #1,” 12.14.87
Many of the key ideas of Judaism are multivalent—they are ideas with layers of meaning. Rabbi Greenberg raises the question of suffering in the world. Does suffering imply guilt? Not necessarily.

Part II: “Covenant: Wexner Foundation #2,” 12.14.87
Starting with the theology of the prophet Isaiah, Rabbi Greenberg continues to explore the problem of evil. Guilt and suffering do not necessarily go together. Suffering and evil are a reality of the world, but not necessarily what God wants.

Part III: “Covenant, Wexner Foundation #3,” 12.14.8
Continuation of previous recording, an interactive discussion on the problem of evil—we can live with our moral commitments despite the reality of evil in the world.

Series B

Part I: “Covenant, Wexner Foundation #4,” 1.19.88
Rabbi Greenberg discusses the Sadducees’ view of the covenant. He compares and contrasts that view with the view of the Pharisees and the rabbis after them. For the rabbis, revelation included a written Torah and an oral Torah.

Part II: “Covenant, Wexner Foundation #5,” 1.19.88
Rabbi Greenberg argues that God’s role in history changes over time, balancing presence and absence. God’s absence provides more opportunity for human responsibility.

Part III: “Covenant, Wexner Foundation #6,” 1.19.88
A continuation of the previous lecture on God’s presence and absence.

Series C

Part I: “Covenant, Wexner Foundation #7,” 2.2.88
Rabbi Greenberg discusses how aspects of the covenant permeate the Jewish calendar.

Part II: “Covenant, Wexner Foundation #8,” 2.2.88
Rabbi Greenberg emphasizes the value Judaism places on life. Judaism stresses both the quantity and the quality of life.

Part III: “Covenant, Wexner Foundation #9,” 2.2.88
A continuation of the previous lecture on the value Judaism places on life. Rabbi Greenberg addresses contemporary challenges to the value of life: How should Israel balance its responsibility to the lives of its citizens with the lives of its enemies?